Against the Flow is a new blog that will deal with serious and difficult topics, and occasionally with softer subjects too. It will side with politics that strives to do the right thing, as opposed to favouring quick and easy answers. Rather than practising mere public relations, it will encourage journalism that seeks the truth and explores what is really going on in the community. It will praise political leaders who take responsibility for their words, actions and mistakes. It will show respect for First Nations peoples for their great strengths and for the many injustices they are overcoming. It will salute those who recognize that our planet is both burning up and drowning due to climate change and undertake to fight on behalf of Planet Earth.
Alexei Navalny was an indomitable spirit, a courageous man, whose death in an isolated prison is being mourned in much of the world. Unlike the dictators described below, Navalny give us a sense of an honorable man, a visionary with a clear conscience.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who comes from a ruthless KGB culture, has now undoubtedly tightened his grip on the Russian state. He will not be deposed soon.
Putin’s war with Navalny has deep roots. Three years ago, Russian agents poisoned Navalny with a nerve agent in London, England. Navalny somehow survived that attack and continued his opposition inside Russia, on the way to being imprisoned for his tireless efforts to expose Putin’s methods. Then, with Putin’s pending re-election to another six-year term as president, Putin had Navalny murdered in the Siberian prison where he was being held.
When Blaine Higgs first got interested in running the province of New Brunswick, he viewed himself as the White Knight in shining armour. He saw “politics” as a dirty business, something best left to old style politicians obsessed with getting elected.
Higgs has not recognized politics as the “art of the possible”. Any person who is to be successful in public life must make decisions based on what can be achieved in the current times, with the approval of the voters. There is nothing dirty in that, it is what can make engaging in politics, and governing successfully, an “honorable calling”. This is how Allan Blakeney, the venerable former Premier of Saskatchewan, described his view of politics.
Having claimed he was above “politics”, Premier Higgs has been acting more “political” than any leader who is out in the streets and in the countryside talking to citizens, taking the pulse, listening to the concerns of the average person. He would also be listening to the advice of his colleagues in cabinet and caucus, or of his paid advisors in the public service.
There are plenty of signs that if Mr. Higgs listens, he does not listen carefully to many people before making up his mind. In the case last summer of Policy 713 on Sexual Orientation and Gender, he and some of his ministers indicated there were a great many people complaining about the policy. Under pressure, the government finally admitted that there had been only one complaint. Nonetheless the Premier proceeded to cut back the policy radically and develop the gender issue as a wedge to divide the electorate in the next election.
It is cheering that more than 200 people gathered outside the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue in Fredericton a few days ago to show their solidarity with the Jewish community after a terrible act of vandalism was perpetrated at the Synagogue.
The attack can only be viewed as an act of hate, particularly as it coincided with last Saturday’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Between last Friday night and Saturday morning, the front windows of the building were smashed, and glass was scattered inside and in front of the Synagogue. Ayten Kranat, the vice-president of the Synagogue told various news outlets that the attack was “planned” to coincide with the holocaust Remembrance Day observances.
For many Jews the act is shockingly reminiscent of the Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) in 1938 when Adolf Hitler and German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels unleashed Nazi storm troupers to smash Jewish-owned businesses, synagogues, and homes, leaving the streets littered with glass and Jews terrified about what would happen next.
What happened next was terrible.
The New Hampshire people are plain-spoken, decent, and conservative. They are also politically savvy. There is some good news in how they expressed themselves in their state’s Republican Primary.
This blog, Against the Flow, sees three main aspects of the New Hampshire result: first, Donald Trump underperformed. His results were well below his own much-vaunted expectations; second, Trump showed himself to be a very poor winner and he put on display several distasteful aspects of his character; and third, and perhaps surprisingly, organizers for President Joe Biden may well be pleased to be very likely competing head to head against Trump in November.
Trump underperformed: The former president wanted to beat Nikky Haley by at least twenty percentage points. In fact, his margin of victory was more like 10 per cent. His total was far below his own much vaunted expectations, and he was not pleased. The Trump juggernaut blew a tire, and the former president, for all his faults, is not stupid. The New Hampshire result may have told him that despite his strength in much of the Republican Party, his election in November is not a sure bet.
When I launched this Blog, Against the Flow, four months ago, I vowed that it would: “Salute those who recognize that our planet is both burning up and drowning due to climate change and undertake to fight on behalf of Planet Earth… The fires, floods (and winds) of the past few months have shown that every political party in Canada, at both the federal and provincial levels, must bring forward a comprehensive strategy and action plan to combat this challenge.”
Climate Change is not something dreamed up by starry eyed youth or overly sensitive scientists. It is very real. We must salute our youth for their vision as they will inherit the mess that we leave behind for them, and our scientists are doing their duty in sounding the alarm.
On June 6, 2023, there was a forest fire burning in every province of Canada except for Prince Edward Island. On one day in late December, temperatures above zero were recorded in every province in the country. In New Brunswick just before Christmas, a wicked and costly wind and rain storm took out untold numbers of trees and resulted in lengthy power outages. In 2022, tropical storm Fiona ripped into the south coast of Newfoundland sending entire houses out to sea and making some people afraid to live, ever again, next to the coast.
Now, in the southern and central part of New Brunswick, we especially thank the power linemen from here and nearby for helping restore power to our homes. The mighty wind and rain were the latest climate disaster to hit our region over the last year. But, once again, this event brought out the best in our people, whether giving a hand to a neighbour, helping out at the local warming centre, or doing everything possible to keep the home fires burning.
It has been a horrific year for the world, with wars, hatred, and death. We must do better in 2024.
This season is also one when many people and their caregivers succeed in finding strength despite serious illness. Still others mourn dear friends and family members they have lost. Recently we have also become very aware of the suffering brought about by homelessness, a hardship far more serious than being out of electric power for a few days.
May we all experience joy and happiness in this holiday season.
Peace & Goodwill to All!
Letters to the editor are a key part of a Free Press!
On the path that Brunswick News has chosen, researchers in this province could soon have precious little basis on which to write the history of the province.
Furthermore, Brunswick News (BN), has failed in a current example to uphold the obligation of newspapers to publish letters to the editor, including ones it disagrees with. As a former editor of a small New Brunswick newspaper, I can attest that this is a vital obligation.
There are, of course, some incendiary letters, ones that advocate violence or are in bad taste, for which exceptions can be made. In other cases, severely limited space could also be claimed. But there is no good reason to refuse to publish a letter solely because it expresses a different opinion from that of the newspaper. The example being cited in this column shows that freedom of the press for the writers of letters to the editor is being put in danger in New Brunswick.
Word that the St. Stephen community organization, Neighborhood Works, has come forward to run a 24-hour drop-in centre for the homeless in the town is heartwarming. It is a strong initial response to New Brunswick Safety Minister Chris Austin’s heartless comments about St. Stephen’s plea for help.
Minister Austin had dismissed as “frivolous’ the town’s declaration of emergency which it had made after Adam Nickerson, was found in a local park, and later died in hospital. Austin wrote to the town immediately to overturn the declaration and did not publicly express any sympathy to the Nickerson family.
For her part, Liberal Leader Susan Holt stepped up to counter strongly Austin’s comments in the Legislature: “I am stunned that the minister has just gotten up and blamed the people of St. Stephen.”
The suicide a few days ago of 12-year-old Carson Cleland in British Columbia due to sexploitation, brings up the memory of Amanda Todd, 15, who committed suicide in a similar tragedy in 2012. The two cases highlight the dangers for some young people in this internet age.
Police say sextortion is a type of extortion usually targeting teenagers. Typically, the perpetrator befriends youths online and eventually persuades them to send a revealing photo or video. The perpetrator later threatens to distribute the image or video if the youth does not pay money or provide sexual favours. The relationship puts a frightening hold on the life of the young person.
Canada’s Solicitor General, Dominque LeBlanc, says the federal government is giving strong consideration to bringing in legislation to combat what is sometimes called cyberbullying. For their part, parents of victims often urge greater involvement of other parents in the online life of their kids. Both these approaches would no doubt be helpful.